Advance notice of the new fees for immigration visas and settlement has been published by UK Visas. Fees for settlement, residence and nationality will increase by 25% in 2016-17, and there will be increases in other categories but not on the same scale.
The Immigration Bill is currently in the committee stage in the House of Lords. The bill introduces wide ranging duties on landlords and banks and building societies for checking that an applicant is not an illegal migrant. There is a renewed emphasis on prosecuting employers who employ someone without the right to work, by inserting after “knowing” the words “or having reasonable cause to believe” in the offence provision. This amends the mens rea needed to make out the offence and will make prosecution of the offence more likely.
Enforcement officers have been given new powers, including that of closing a business in certain circumstances. The definition of "immigration offence" in the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 will be amended, ensuring that the Scottish powers of detention prior to arrest, and of arrest without warrant, will apply to all immigration offences. The payment of an immigration skills charge by certain employers who sponsor skilled workers will be introduced by regulation.
The bill also introduces various duties on public authorities to ensure that their workers speak fluent English. The bill permits the laying of regulations to extend the duty to private businesses and voluntary organisations who provide contracted-out public services.